Is there really a “best” hearing aid, one device that outperforms all others for every single person and every type of hearing loss? This is a question I am asked by many of my patients and the short answer is a resounding “no!” Many factors determine which hearing aid is the best specifically for you, but as we humans have many variables that make us uniquely ourselves, there is no single device that is best suited for each and every individual.
The style, performance and connectivity capabilities of the hearing aid can all be selected to meet your individual needs. It is imperative that your hearing care provider be adept at leading you through the selection process to ensure that the best hearing aid for you has been chosen.
Hearing Aid Styles
The style of the hearing aid refers to the shape and size of the device. Does it consist of a single piece that fits deeply inside your ear, or is there a component that also hangs on top of your ear? People who have concerns about the cosmetics or “look” of the device may select a very small, discrete style. However, people who suffer from dexterity problems or experience numbness in their hands or fingertips, or have difficulty seeing small items, may be better served by a larger hearing aid that is easier to handle for cleaning and changing batteries.
People with memory difficulties who may misplace their hearing aids, those who want a totally invisible device or those who are not capable (or wish to forgo the hassle) of changing batteries or cleaning the aids may opt for an extended wear hearing aid called the Lyric. Certain types and degrees of hearing loss are better suited to some styles of hearing aids, as well. Your hearing health care provider should discuss all of these considerations with you and partner with you to help decide which style of hearing aid is best for you.
Hearing Aid Performance
The performance of the hearing aid refers to the technology inside and has the biggest bearing on the overall price of the device. For the most part, major manufacturers offer three or four different “levels” of performance or technology. These levels are available in all styles and primarily determine how adaptive the hearing aid is as well as how well the insturment is able to manage competing sounds (background noise). Therefore, determining the appropriate performance level mostly has to do with your lifestyle. If you are somebody who spends the majority of your time in a quiet setting (mostly at home with one or two people talking at any time) and rarely ventures out to noisy places (grocery stores, restaurants, meetings, etc.), a basic performance level may be best for you.
Alternatively, if you are someone who enjoys social activities or is working, you likely encounter many noisy situations, and the best hearing aid for you may be a top-of-the-line or premium model hearing insturments. There are many people who fall somewhere in between and therefore, may select a middle level performance device. The best hearing aid for you is one that is able to meet the demands of your daily listening environments.
The connectivity capabilities of hearing aids refer to the device’s ability to connect to other electronic components such as televisions, cellphones, landline telephones and tablets or computers. Hearing aids are now able to function as your own wireless headset. The ability to hear a phone call in both ears simultaneously or listen to the television with pitches and volume set specifically for you can greatly improve the clarity and enjoyment of these devices.
The majority of hearing aids are now compatible with other Bluetooth® or wireless capable electronics, giving you the opportunity to link up and experience excellent hearing through many mediums. The importance of making these connections and how the hearing aid is able to do so is another factor in determining which hearing aid is best for you.
Where to Get Your Hearing Aids
A further consideration in deciding which hearing aid is best for you is understanding who can program and service the device you end up choosing. Hopefully, you will be able to continue to see the same hearing health care provider from whom you purchased the hearing aids throughout the life of the device (approximately five years). But what happens if you move or that provider’s location closes? Purchasing a device from a major manufacturer will allow for the most flexibility in future service and care.
Private-label hearing aids tie you to that particular provider or retail chain so that, in most cases, you are unable to have the devices programmed or serviced by anyone other than that particular provider or provider network. Furthermore, a large portion of what you pay for when purchasing your hearing aids is all future care and service from your hearing health care provider. It is therefore very important that you are confident the office and provider you have chosen is a good match. The most important consideration when purchasing a hearing aid is confidence in your provider. It is the hearing health care provider’s job to help you select the hearing aid that is best for you so make sure you have selected the provider that is best for you as well!
If you are seeking a hearing health provider or local audiologist in the greater Sacramento area, call our office to schedule a hearing evaluation or consultation. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you find the hearing aid best suited to meet your needs.